Creating a better future: what is B Corp and why does it matter?
Since day one, we wanted our brand to be a force for good - not just for your wellbeing, but for our planet, too.
That's why we're proud to be Certified B Corp pending - joining a global community of businesses that share the same mission. But what is B Corp? - and what does it mean in reality?
In celebration of B Corp month this March, we spoke to our Co-Founder, Leighton, and Aisling Connaughton, a leading voice in the world of Sustainability to find out more...
Who are Cyd Connects and what is B Corp Month about?
AC: We're a women-led sustainability consultancy, created to inspire positive change and help businesses become a force for good. We are B Leaders, which means we have been trained by B Lab UK (The not for profit behind B Corp) to guide businesses through the comprehensive and rigorous certification process.
B Corp Month is an annual, global campaign. Every year during March, B Lab and the global B Corp Community join together to celebrate everything it means to be a B Corp. The aim is to educate a diverse audience on the importance of the B Corp movement which is working to transform our economic system to a fairer more equitable place. B Corp is about People, Planet and Profit – not just profit. B Corp is the future of business because it is moving business from a shareholder model to a stakeholder model. In some categories it is fast becoming a hygiene factor and helping to raise the standards of these industries, some good examples are beauty, food and fashion. I believe all businesses should have a stakeholder model and therefore I believe B Corp is the future of business.
Why choose B Corp as your best sustainability and accountability framework for modern businesses?
AC: The world is facing some of the biggest crises and challenges of our time. We have a collapsing environment, social justice gaps seem to be widening not closing and historically companies have chosen to prioritise profit over people and planet, so have added to the problem. The UN has given us 17 Sustainable Development Goals that 193 countries have signed up to achieve by 2030. However, the SDGs need to be accelerated and businesses and entrepreneurs have an important role to play. This is where B Corp comes in. It is a trusted global business certification based on a robust sustainability framework. The B Corp mission is to create an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet. B Corp isn’t just a mark, it’s a global movement of people of people going beyond `business as usual’ to make their mark on the world.
Tell us a bit about how it all began - and what made you decide to undergo the rigorous submission process for the B Corp certification, when you had all the other elements of starting a new beauty business going on?
LAW: We’re a small team – each with our own unique experience and skills, who together set out to create a wellbeing brand for the modern generation. We call it ‘an antidote to modern living’ as we believe that the natural world has much to offer to help us all counter the impact of the ever-connected world we live in. Our range of certified Vegan, cruelty-free skincare, and aromatherapy brings together over 50 pure plant extracts with our own proprietary CBD, grown by us in the USA.
From the outset, we wanted to be a brand (and a business) that had integrity at the very essence of who we are. A brand that you could rely on – not just for effective products, but as a brand that was going to do some good along the way. We all felt that B Corp was an obvious choice for us, particularly as it is fast becoming something that consumers look for as a hallmark of an ethical, sustainable brand. There’s always so much to do when you’re launching a new brand, but in many ways, having the framework to guide us meant that we were able to make decisions more efficiently.
What does B Corp pending actually mean? How will you become a full B Corp?
LAW: B Corp Pending means that a business has been trading for less than 12 months – and so has not yet had the opportunity to put their intentions into practice. You still need to complete the BIA assessment, and most importantly amend your Articles of Association to legally commit to considering your impact on your company’s key stakeholders to qualify. After the initial 12 months, you then need to submit a full B Corp application, and at this time, you need to show evidence that you have delivered on the promises you made. We’re very fortunate to have the fantastic team at Cyd Connects guiding us through the process, and we’re committed to the pledges we set, so we’re very much looking forward to becoming fully certified at the end of the year.
What else was important to you when designing the business?
LAW: We’re driven by the principle of the ‘triple bottom line’ – that is people, planet, and profit – in that order. Of course, every business is there to make money for its shareholders and owners - but the tide is turning, and increasingly consumers are voting with their money. They don’t want to shop with brands that are only interested in making a quick buck – they want to know that their money is being spent with a brand that delivers a great product and experience, as well as ‘giving back’ in some form or another.
Being a brand that relies so greatly on nature to make our products, sustainability, and ethical sourcing is something that is of significant importance to us, so we work with suppliers who share our commitments, and we made conscious decisions with the materials we have used across our packaging for example. When it comes to community, we recognise the perhaps unique role that wellness (and more broadly, beauty) brands have in bringing people together. I’ve experienced it first hand in my previous roles – there’s a sense of vulnerability when it comes to talking about self-care and wellbeing. Consumers can be slow to open up about their concerns – but, when they trust a brand, they will often chat freely about all aspects of their life. It becomes almost like a friendship, rather than a business transaction. So, we really want to be a brand that people feel connected with – on a personal level.
In our local communities, we’re committed to donating a percentage of our sales annually to charitable causes – and we’ll be looking to our community to help us decide where best to pledge our support. I’ve always believed that it’s not just about cash – often it’s that advice, mentoring, and support that can be so beneficial to smaller charities and causes. When it comes to accountability, we all play a part in holding ourselves, and each other to account. We’re a small team, and we’re all comfortable with being challenged on our thinking, and our approach. Our structure is fairly flat – and that was intentional because we want everyone to feel they are empowered to do what they believe is right– and it’s something that, as we grow, I am really keen to preserve.
B Corp is complex, how can other brands large and small navigate the process?
AC: B Corp is for every size of business in any country. It doesn’t matter if you are a sole trader based from your bedroom in Brighton or if you are a billion dollar business like Patagonia in California. The first step is downloading the B Impact Assessment. This is a free ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) tool that transitions your business to the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit.
We are B Leaders, which means we have been trained by B Lab UK to guide businesses through the comprehensive and rigorous certification process. The process begins with a free discussion and overview. Then we tailor your roadmap through the B Impact Assessment. It's not an easy task (nothing worthwhile ever is) but the concept is simple; B Corp isn't a tally of your business' beliefs and ambitions, it is a measure of your actions and legal commitments.
How did the B Corp framework guide you in establishing your founding principles?
LAW: I think the framework made it easier for us to focus our intentions. It can be tempting to just write a whole load of glib phrases and statements that don’t really mean anything. What B Corp instils in you is the importance of governance and of action, over intent. We already had a very clear idea of who we wanted to be, but the framework definitely helps you to think about the ‘how’ as much as the ‘why’.
What new processes did you put in place that differ from other beauty businesses you have been involved in over the year?
LAW: Launching our brand has coincided with so much change in the working world – especially post-pandemic. So, as well as the B Corp framework, we’ve really thought about how we build a modern business that is not only a pleasure to do business with, but also to work for. Crucially, we made an official change to our articles of association to adopt a stakeholder model, rather than a shareholder model. This was a deliberate and purposeful act to ensure that we keep that ‘triple bottom line’ front of mind, always.
It is difficult to draw parallels between our approach and other brands that I’ve been involved in, as the world has changed so much in such a short space of time – but what we’ve tried to create is a business that recognises that behind each employee is a human. So, a lot of our processes and policies are focused on bringing the ‘human’ into ‘human resources’ – for instance, we don’t have a defined dress code, instead, we encourage our team to ‘wear what makes them feel themselves’. We have a specific set of guidance around menopause, and supporting women to feel that they can talk about their symptoms openly, we’ve invested in training around mental health so that everyone knows the signs to watch out for, and we’re actually flexible when it comes to flexible working.
Being a small brand with limited resources is oddly quite an empowering position to be in – because you have to think really hard about where you invest. For example, we have chosen not to spend significant sums on ambassadors and lavish press events. It just doesn’t sit right with me. So, instead we’ve maximised the use of tech to help us launch the brand, and we’ve collaborated with partners on a meaningful basis to help spread the word about the brand. It’s certainly a slower way to build a brand, but I believe it will endure.
Why is B Corp important for brands looking to develop globally?
AC: The B Corp certification is globally recognised by consumers, investors and business leaders, and its reputation is escalating at a staggering rate. Recent research shows that Certified B Corp businesses outperform their peers across several business metrics. The UK is now one of the fastest-growing B Corp communities in the world.
Who is B Corp for? and not for?
B Corp is designed for-profit companies that believe business can be a force for good. It is a global framework for every size of business.
Underpinning B Corp is The B Impact Assessment which I am a huge fan of as its free. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” I believe is one of the most important quotes in business. Every business needs to start tracking and measuring because if you cannot measure you cannot improve. We must all take responsibility for our actions and put a stake in the ground and start the improvement process.
The B Corp Certification includes an annual fee to use the trademark which starts at £1,000 and goes up to £50,000 dependent on your turnover. If you are a start up, you may not want to pay that annual fee and that’s fine. Just tracking and measuring with the framework is a great first step.
B Corp is not suited to charities or not for profit organisations because B Corp believes in 'no margin no mission’ so they want businesses to be financially healthy and growing.
Once you certify you become part of The B Hive, an online community of over 5000 B Corps globally, all employees have access and everyone shops and buys from each other,. As well as The B Hive having lots of great offer it also helping to grow your business and make it a success.
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